RIDGELAND, S.c. (WSAV) – John Lavelle is taking on a nearly unprecedented challenge: getting the Congaree Club ready for the Palmetto Championship with less than three months’ notice.
“If we’ve got something that needs to get done, nobody’s above anything,” Lavelle said. “Everybody works together to present what we can do.”
Long before the professionals ever show up at Congaree for the day, Lavelle and his team of more than two dozen course maintenance professionals will have gone over every inch of it.
“We’re going to get out of the shop at five o’clock, go out and mow fairways, mow the greens, set the course up,” Lavelle said.
Lavelle is the director of golf course operations at Congaree: the man responsible for showcasing Tom Fazio’s Lowcountry masterpiece to the world.
“It’s detail work this week, it’s trying to get the bunkers in line,” Lavelle said. “We try to keep it in tournament shape year-round, but right now we’re focusing on details.”
Every other event on the PGA calendar has a full year to get their respective courses ready.
Lavelle has a fraction of that time, in which he needs to meet both PGA standards and television standards.
“I mean, getting it in TV shape is just making sure your edges are crisp and everything is sharp,” Lavelle said. “We started working ourselves backward from June 7 and trying to time out when we were going to get the greens the speed we wanted, the fairways with the firmness we wanted.”
Prior to working at Congaree, Lavelle spent more than two decades helping to maintain Augusta National and learned plenty of lessons there that he’s shared with his staff in Ridgeland.
“Just take a deep breath and calm down,” Lavelle said. “It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”
“I think starting Monday, the adrenaline is going to kick in and get us all through the final week.”